“one should . . . admit how problematic it is to anchor one’s political demands to status of victimhood. Is the basic characteristic of today’s subjectivity not the weird combination of the free subject who believes themselves ultimately responsible for their own fate and the subject who bases their argument on their status as a victim of circumstances beyond their own control? Every contact with another human being is experienced as a potential threat – if the other smokes, if he casts a covetous glance at me, he already hurts me; this logic of victimization is today universalized, reaching well beyond the standard cases of sexual or racist harassment.”
Slavoj Žižek, “Sex and ’68: Liberal Movement Revolutionized ‘Sexuality’ But at What Cost?”
“Social valorization of affects basically means that we pay the plaintiff with her own money: oh, but your feelings are so precious, you are so precious! The more you feel, the more precious you are. This is a typical neoliberal maneuver, which transforms even our traumatic experiences into possible social capital. If we can capitalize on our affects, we will limit out protests to declarations of these affects — say, declarations of suffering — rather than becoming active agents of social change. I’m of course not saying that suffering shouldn’t be expressed and talked about, but that this should not ‘freeze’ the subject into the figure of the victim. The revolt should be precisely about refusing to be a victim, rejecting the position of the victim on all possible levels.
…this bind derives precisely from the subjective gain or gratification that this positioning offers. (Moral) outrage is a particularly unproductive affect, yet it is one that offers considerable libidinal satisfaction. By ‘unproductive’ I mean this: it gives us the satisfaction of feeling morally superior, the feeling that we are in the right and others are in the wrong. Now for this to work, things must not really change. We are much less interested in changing things than in proving, again and again, that we are in the right, or on the right side, the side of the good. Hegel invented a great name for this position: the ‘beautiful soul.’ A ‘beautiful soul’ sees evil and baseness all around it but fails to see to what extent it participates in the perpetuation of that same order of things. The point of course is not that the world isn’t really evil, the point is that we are part of this evil world.”
Alenka Zupančič, “Too Much of Not Enough: An Interview with Alenka Zupančič”
Bonus links: “The Politics of Identity” and “Who Gets Ownership of Pain and Victimhood?” and “Art and Exploitation: Ai Weiwei, Dissidence and the Refugee Crisis” and “What’s Wrong With Identity Politics (and Intersectionality Theory)? A Response to Mark Fisher’s “Exiting the Vampire Castle” (And Its Critics)” (“The upshot [of intersectionality theory] in political practice is a static pluralism of reified social categories, each vying for more-subaltern-than-thou status on a field of one-downsmanship.”) and “On Sex Without Identity: Feminist Politics and Sexual Difference” (“The way things stand now, this kind of [victimhood] assertion comes with a certain social capital, and this tends to stop emancipatory movements before they even start to develop their emancipatory potential.”) and “Die Dreigroschenoper [The Threepenny Opera]” (Notes to the Threepenny Opera: Jonathan Peachum “is undoubtedly a villain . . . . his crime consists in his conception of the world . . . ; yet he is only following the ‘trend of the times’ when he regards misery as a commodity.”) and “Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder [Mother Courage and Her Children]” and Safe and “Who Gets Ownership of Pain and Victimhood?” and The Holocaust Industry and Hate, Inc. (“People need to start understanding the news not as ‘the news,’ but as . . . an individualized consumer experience — anger just for you. This is not reporting. It’s a marketing process designed to create rhetorical addictions and shut down any non-consumerist doors in your mind.”) and “Amuse-Bouches II – Testimony and the Pass”